Taming the Wild Strawberries

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By Tabassum Siddiqui

The Wild Strawberries have a lot to celebrate these days. The band, made up of keyboard Ken Harrison and singer Roberta Carter Harrison released their third album, Quiver, last week. It comes only a month after the birth of their new baby, Georgia.

Quiver boasts a darker, edgier sound than the dou’s previous albums, signalling a progression in the band’s overall sound. “That’s definitely what we were after,” says Roberta, as husband Ken holds a sleeping Georgia in his arms. “It felt natural to us. We’ve sort of done the bright, poppy record in the past, and we wanted to move on.”

Recording in their home studio gave the pair freedom to experiment with different sounds and musical directions.

Critics have compared the, to everyone from Garbage to Portishead, but the Strawbs say they took their cues from less commercial, more experimental artists such as Bjork, Cibo Matto, Stereolab and Mad Professor.

“We’ve tried so hard for so long to please everyone around us,” Roberta says, “so this time it was really nice to just do this for ourselves.”

This musical adventurism has its price, however — Ken has been spending all his spare time figuring out how to translate the layered sounds of Quiver to a live setting.

“It’s kind of become a joke in the studio,” Ken laughs.

“We just have sound upon sound, and we didn’t want to have to just trigger a loop when we played it live.”

So in continuing the tradition of the Strawberries’ dynamic live shows, both Ken and the other players on stage will be able to manipulate sounds to re-create the songs on Quiver.

While the stage used to be singer Roberta’s playground, and Ken did most of the writing and recording, those roles have shifted since the band’s last record. The pair even co-wrote several songs on Quiver.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever written anything, and the first time Ken’s co-written,” says Roberta.

“So it was a new experience for both of us. We’ve just been together for so long we don’t have a unique thought among us.”

The duo are joined on the album by several members of labelmate Sarah McLachlan’s band, following a similar matchup on their 1995 record Heroine, and extensive touring with those musicians.

“We really felt like a band at that point,” says Roberta.

“We had just come off the road with them, and it was great to record with them. Too bad Sarah got them fist!”

Wild Strawberries will play some dates on McLachlan’s Lilith Fair tour again this summer and are hoping for a slot on the Edgefest tour as well. But first the band will embark on a cross-Canada tour in March in support of Quiver.

And how are the busy musicians going to fit parenting into their rock’n’roll lifestyle?

“Well, Georgia’s come with us through all the press the past few weeks, and she’s been a real trooper,” laughs Roberta.

“And she’s incredibly portable at this stage — makes things easy.”

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